Breast Milk Helps Premature Infants: Study

Even the tiniest premature babies should get breast milk while they are in a hospital’s intensive care unit because it appears to boost their mental development, a study said on Monday. A second study on breast feeding found that it does not raise the risk that children will develop tooth decay later in life, as some earlier research had suggested.

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Giving breast milk to premature baby helps your baby in many ways. Your breast milk helps to meet special needs of your premature baby. Your breast milk and colostrum contains white blood cells, antibodies and other immune properties which helps your premature baby to resist infection.

According to recent studies, breast milk also improves the neurological development of premature babies. The substances present in breast milk improve the digestion of fats and proteins even for the premature baby.

Giving breast milk to the premature infants is considered as important as giving medications by the physicians. Premature infants may be too ill to feed directly from the breast, so you can start the process of lactation by expressing milk with a breast pump.

Regular pumping helps to keep up your production of milk for when your premature baby is ready to breast-feed.

Reasons why breast milk is important for premature infants:

  • Premature babies miss calcium, iron and immunoglobulins that occur during third trimester of pregnancy. The only way premature babies can get above elements is via breast milk.
  • Enzymes in breast milk and laxative effects of colostrum, which pre-digest nutrients, are important for the premature infant’s digestive system.
  • Low renal solute load provided by breast milk will be easier on kidneys of premature infants.
  • Premature infants who are not fed breast milk have lower IQs than other infants who were fed with breast milk.
  • Breast milk provides warmth, bonding and physical closeness with the babies.
  • Premature babies with medical problems such as Down’s syndrome, congenital heart disease and other similar diseases develop immunity for such diseases by breast feeding.
  • Oral sucking of breast milk by the baby contributes to the oral development and there is less risk of malocclusion.
  • Infants who are not breast fed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Premature infants who are not breastfed become sick more often and will have more doctor’s visits.
  • There is no need to sterilize the bottles and nipples and there is no chance of contamination of breast milk unlike infant formula.